Employee Engagement in Social Media Era — Corby way

ChrisSong    February 3, 2016

Social media is one of the fastest-growing industries in today’s interconnected world. People more or less have relationship with social media in their daily lives. This gives organization a new situation to face — like it or not, your employees’ uses of their own social media channels could put the organization exposed to the public in good or bad way. There are challenges and opportunities living together. On one hand, it will give organization more promotion opportunities. On the other hand, employee’s wrong or negative mention of organization on social media will possibly bring crisis to organization.

Organization should more likely deal with it as an issue or take the initiative to leverage employee’s social media resources for its use? Corby Spirit and Wine’s best practices in promoting responsible drinking give a successful example of how organization uses social media to enable employee to become more involve in organization’s missions.

Everyone Is a Responsible Drinking Ambassador

Toronto based publicly traded company, Corby Spirit and Wine Limited is a leading Canadian marketer and distributor of spirits and imported wines. Raising public’s awareness about responsible drinking is one of the major missions on Corby’s corporate communications agenda. Engaging employees to participate in responsible drinking activities belongs to the responsibility of internal communications.

“For me internal and external communications are now merging.” Said Amandine Robin, Director of Communications, Public Relations & CSR, Corby Spirt and Wine, “As a company, you need one common voice and also acknowledge and leverage the fact that employees become ambassadors of your company on social media and at the same time, activities previously only internal can become a great tool for your external communications.”

Corby’s practice in its 5th Responsib’All Day in 2015 gives us a full picture to understand how all of their employees were successfully encouraged to become company’s ambassadors online.


About Responsib’All Day

Responsib’All Day is the culmination of Corby’s majority shareholder Pernod Ricard’s action to promote responsible drinking. Starting from 2011, this annual event is based on an original idea: to make Pernod Ricard’s 18,000 employees in 85 subsidiaries around the world the leading ambassadors of the Group’s commitments. (Corby, 2015)

What did Corby do?

One week before 2015 Responsib’All Day’s event day, all Corby’s employees received an email with the subject of “Responsib’All Day: win tickets to the Pan Am Gaems/ganer des billets pour les Jeux panamericains. In this email, they were encouraged to spread the word about responsible consumption on their personal social media channels (ie Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). Employees were allowed to create their own posts with the hashtag #WeAreResponsibAll and a certain link to a reponsible consumption education page in their posts. Each post shared on each different social network earns them one entry into a grand prize draw of winning a trip to Toronto including flights, accommodations, dinner voucher and game tickets.

And on June 11, the event day, Corby’s employees took to Canadian streets for a series of five-kilometer walks and activities in 13 cities across the country to raise awareness about responsible drinking by talk directly with their families, friends, customers, distributors and consumers.

What did Corby achieve?

The impactful event achieved close to 1,500 kms collective travel and more than 2,000 #IDIDTs (each “Like” counts as one “I DID IT”).(Amandine Robin, Inspire Your Employee, Speech at Strategic Employee Engagement & Internal Brand Activation Conference, Dec 7-9, 2015, New York City) Responsib’All Day campaign is not the only success of Corby’s strategic employee engagement on social media. “We also encouraged them (employees) to participate in a movement, creating an even bigger voice for our company’s brand mission.” said Amandine Robin, Director of Communications, Public Relations & CSR. As a recognition to its achievements, Corby was once again recognized as one of Greater Toronto’s Top 100 Employers and Best Workplaces in Canada in 2015.

Lessons for Others

There are 3 key ingredients in using social media for employee engagement:

Education: Ensure employee to speak in one common voice with organization.

Before engage employee to spread words on their personal social media channels or talk directly with stakeholders, giving them training of knowledge, message and guideline is fundamental. In Corby’s case, Responsib’All Day is never a one day event. As an important part of the event, following Pernod Ricard’s guideline, Corby organized online and offline trainings to ensure every employee to be educated properly and be able to spread right words out. It helped to reduce risks of inconsistent communications.

Motivation: Gamification and Prizes always help.

When use social media to enable employee involve in organization’s activities, at this time, your employees are same as your social media audiences in external communications. Attractive prizes and fun gamification will give them better incentive to participate in the campaign. Make it fun, easy and desirable.

In Corby’s 5th Responsib’All Day, a trip as the prize was announced in advance. Everyone kept it in mind:share more on social media earn more entry to the prize draw and their participation will be considered in year end performance review.

Content: Feed employee with good materials for their social media posts and never underestimate their creation.  

Social media is a content based communication platform. Without good content, even your employee has great passion on posting organization’s messages, it doesn’t mean the communication will be impactful. The content for employees to use on their posts must be relevant, reasonable and interesting.

In Corby’s practice, off line activities give employees vivid people stories to be shared in their posts, such as participating in 5 kilo meter walks and volunteer activities, which helped them to win more “Likes” . In #CorbySafeRides campaign, employee spreading the news of free ride on TTC was also easy to be liked.  Introducing a new technology, such as Pernod Ricard’s Wise Drinking APP is another way to be eye catching.

Organization: Corby Spirit and Wine Limited
Industry: Spirit and Wine
Name of Organization Contact: Amandine Robin, Director of Communications, Public Relations & CSR

Authored by: Chris (Yuzhang) Song

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